The first Test match between India and Australia this year will be played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on the 23rd of February 2017. The third will be played at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium in Ranchi in March, followed by one at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.
What is special about this bit of news, you may wonder. Well, all three will be hosting Test cricket for the very first time!
Interestingly, last year, three other Indian venues enjoyed their Test debuts: Holkar Stadium in Indore, Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot and the YS Rajashekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Vishakapatnam. These, however, have hosted ODIs before. This prompts me to span out and do some analysis – of Test, ODI and T20I cricket venues around the world, and provide some ‘filtered information’ which emerges from playing with the data.
First things first. Test cricket. To date, there are 114 Test cricketing venues around the world. India leads the pack (on account of being the most populated and the second largest in surface area among Test cricket playing countries) with 22 of these, followed by neighbour Pakistan with 16. The West Indies (Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana & Trinidad and Tobago taken together) come third with 12, followed by South Africa with 11.
England and Australia (the legendary rivals who played the first ever Test match in Melbourne) have 9 each; New Zealand and Sri Lanka have 8 each. Bangladesh, believe it or not, has 7. The United Arab Emirates – the neutral cricketing venue being used by Pakistan for some time now, has 3 stadiums, as does Zimbabwe, while Wales has one. Including the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, we can say that the United Kingdom has 10.
The first ever Test match in each of New Zealand, Barbados, Bangladesh, UAE and Pakistan was played in the month of January. For Sri Lanka, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago, it was February, while for Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, and South Africa, it was in March.
Jamaica hosted its first Test match in April, England in September and Zimbabwe in October. June marked the beginning in most of the West Indies – St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St Lucia and Dominica, while for Wales, it was July.
The last month of the year was the debut month for India, with the first-ever match being played in….you guessed it, Aamchi Mumbai (or Bombay, its official name at the time).
Let us jump to ODIs. The first was played in 1971, in January in Australia. Ever since then, over the last 46 years – which is also the age of yours sincerely – a staggering 193 venues have hosted one-day international matches. Again, quite obviously, India leads the list with 44. England has 20, Australia 18, and New Zealand and Pakistan 16 each. South Africa houses 12 while Sri Lanka is home to 9 venues. The West Indies, taken together, are home to 14 ODI venues. Bangladesh has 8 to Zimbabwe’s 4.
The others in the list are Wales, the UAE, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, Morocco, Canada, Northern Ireland and Malaysia. It goes without saying that in Test playing countries (and the UAE), stadiums are used both for Test matches and ODIs, and as we shall note later on, also for T20 internationals.
ODIs began in Australia in January; in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines in February; in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago in March; in Singapore, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica and the UAE in April; in Scotland, the Netherlands, St Kitts and Nevis in May; Northern Ireland in June; Dominica and Wales in July; England and Morocco in August; Malaysia, Kenya and Canada in September; Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in October; India in November and South Africa in December.
Finally, to T20 Internationals: the baby of the pack. It is 72 stadiums thus far, the youngest one in the fray being Dhoni’s hometown Ranchi. Incidentally, this stadium will also be hosting its first Test match in March this year, against the very same Aussies.
India again tops with 11 venues, followed by South Africa and the West Indies (9 each), England (8), Australia (7), Sri Lanka (5), Bangladesh and UAE (4 each) and Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Kenya (2 each). There are seven other countries with one T20 venue each (this includes the USA with the venue in Florida where India played against the West Indies in exhibition matches recently).
Again, needless to say, there are quite a few venues at which international cricket matches of all the three formats are played.
The Mecca of cricket – Lords in London has hosted the highest number of Test matches thus far, while the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the UAE takes the honours when it comes to ODIs. To conclude things, another venue in the UAE – the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (located close to the headquarters of the International Cricket Council) – leads the pack in T20Is.
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